Umguza farmer acquitted

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AN Umguza elderly white farmer accused of illegally occupying State land was last week found not guilty and acquitted.

REPORT BY SILAS NKALA

Sarah Anne Visser (76), who used to own Kloof Farm, gazetted for compulsory acquisition for resettlement in 2009, denied the charge when she appeared before a Bulawayo magistrate Crispen Mberewere.

In her defence, Visser, represented by Josphat Tshuma, said she was allocated a piece of land inside the same farm after it was gazetted.

In her court documents Visser submitted that in 2009 she applied for an A2 farm on the property, as she wanted plots 14, 15, 16 and 17.

“In 2006 I was told by the lands officials that my application had been successful and the necessary documents would follow,” she submitted.

“But in 2010 the official told me that part of the same land had been allocated to (Jacob) Makhubalo and (Cost) Bhebhe.”

Visser, who lived at the farm for 43 years, said Makhubalo and Bhebhe started destroying vegetation, clearing the land in preparation for farming.

She said Makhubalo threatened to take over her farm house.

Visser said on April 3 2011, Makhubalo destroyed her lucerne and other fodder crops using a tractor.

Prosecutor Jeremiah Mutsindikwa told the court that in 2009 Kloof Farm was acquired by the government under the land reform programme.

On November 20 the same year, the farm was divided into 17 plots and offered to a number of people under the resettlement scheme.

Among the beneficiaries were Makhubalo of Luveve and Bhebhe of Lobengula West in Bulawayo, whom Visser allegedly denied access to the land.

After the pair failed to access their allocated plots, they reported the matter to the police, but Visser allegedly refused to vacate, insisting that she could only move away after being served with a court order.

Visser was allegedly ordered to vacate the farm, but she refused to move out and she was summoned to court on charges of contravening sections of the Land Acquisition Act.

Court papers indicate that according to the Act, she was supposed to give a notice of appeal against the acquisition of her Kloof Farm within 90 days, but allegedly failed to do so.

The matter was first brought to the Bulawayo Western Commonage Courts in 2011.